(The Center Square) – Twenty million dollars in Manufacturing 4.0 Workforce Innovation grants have been awarded to 46 companies in Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Economic Development Authority announced Thursday.
Workforce Innovation grants are geared toward Iowa manufacturers with 76 to 250 employees. The grants focus on addressing workforce shortages that limit the company in growth or sales or help retain existing employees by refocusing human capital from manual, labor-intensive positions into high-skill occupations through robotic and automated systems.
Recipients received up to $500,000 in grant funding for an at least 25 percent match.
The Manufacturing 4.0 plan, which launched in February 2021, is intended to help Iowa manufacturers remain globally competitive, the release said.
“Our Manufacturing 4.0 initiative focuses on one of Iowa’s largest industries and will help them unleash new potential to grow their businesses,” Reynolds said in the news release. “To maintain our economic vitality in this sector, particularly as we work to mitigate ongoing workforce shortages, these grants serve as a critical resource to support advanced manufacturing businesses. It is imperative that our businesses remain globally competitive and a step ahead of the evolving demands of the 21st century economy.”
Innovative Injection Technologies, Inc. (I2Tech), a custom plastics injection molder and supplier of contract manufacturing services in West Des Moines, will use $500,000 to purchase robots to install on their presses.
Demand from their clients increased during COVID-19 when other molders closed, the release said.
“At the same time, the labor pool decreased, and the company found it difficult to meet customer needs,” the release said. The robots will eliminate repetitive tasks, elevate their employees’ skills, and make it easier to accept new and complex projects.”
FRM Socks, a sock producer in Osage, will use $340,000 to replace its outdated Enterprise Resource Planning system with a more capable, modern, cloud-based ERP that will allow it to automate data flow throughout its value chain, improving interactions with suppliers and customers.
The Workforce Innovation grant recipients are listed here.
Thirty-seven companies with three to 75 employees received on Jan. 21 and Feb. 28 another $1.9 million (up to $75,000 apiece) in Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) Technology Investment Program grants for projects that adopt and integrate smart technologies. They had to match the grants at least dollar for dollar. Technology Investment grant recipients are listed here.
IEDA is accepting applications for Technology Investment program grants.
Companies can apply for $75,000 between Manufacturing Innovation Equipment Grants and Manufacturing Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Infrastructure Investment Grants over the business lifetime. They need to undergo a Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) Industry 4.0 assessment before applying. Grants are available until the fund is depleted.
Gov. Reynolds appropriated $30 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for the grant programs in October 2021.